Podcasts have become as much a part of pop culture as radio and television. Many of us watch or listen to several a week from mainstream broadcasts like NPR to small blogcasts. Once you are hooked on podcasts (whether it be audio or video), the question becomes “how do you manage them?”

The easy way is to subscribe to your favorite podcasts in iTunes and sync regularly. The easier way is to get Mediafly and not worry about syncing to iTunes. You can describe Mediafly many ways including media aggregator, podcatcher. Let’s take a look at the basic concept and functions of Mediafly first.

Signing up for a Mediafly account is free. Free is almost always good, and in this case it is very good indeed! Once you’ve signed up for your free account, you can start sifting through the website’s featured shows. Featured shows include the various WSJ podcasts, Discovery Health, Mighty Mommy, CNN, NPR, MSNBC, 60 minutes, AMPed, VH1, and many more. You can listen at your leisure, or subscribe to any of the episodes or shows from your Mediafly controls. There are a lot of options here, and it can take time to figure out exactly what to do. On the bright side, it is fun and well worth the effort.IMG_0136

Once you’ve signed up for an account, you set up your channels. Medafly has a decent lineup of channels, nicely divided into categories like tech, music, etc. If you’re looking for streaming radio…look elsewhere. What you’ll find under the music channel heading are podcasts about music and the recording industry.

I have set up a few basic channels on my Mediafly account. You have the ability to name them however you’d like, and fill them with whatever content suits your fancy.

I’m going to use my “The Guys” channel as my example. I set up the channel with a unique title, and have filled it with content from the guys I know who podcast.

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Filled with the latest podcasts from msmobiles, T4Show, The Cell Phone Junkie, and more – it’s my perfect group of podcasts.

Adding content to a channel is (as Edward might say) easy peasy lemon squeezy. You can copy/paste the RSS feed into your Mediafly account online, or search for the podcast you want and add it that way. Once you’ve added a podcast, you can move it to your channel group.

 

Now you may be wondering why you want to move it, especially if it comes up under the “technology” channel in the first place. This gives me the opportunity to talk about “preloading” podcasts, one of the really great features in the iPhone version of Mediafly.IMG_0133

 

Within the iPhone application, Mediafly gives you the option of preloading all media, or preloading an entire channel. No option to preload only certain subscriptions, so it makes sense to “channel” all those podcasts that you would want preloaded.

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What exactly does it mean to preload? Rather than streaming the podcast over your 3G connection, you can preload via WiFi at your convenience, and then listen later without worrying about your connection.

Preloading does take place automatically when you connect to a WiFi network, so you really don’t have to worry about a thing. It’s definitely much easier than remembering to sync to iTunes before you head off to the bus station or airport. Having the ability to save or stream podcasts is wonderful.

Needless to say, Mediafly is a player as well as aggregator. Choose the podcast you want, and hit play.

There are two versions of Mediafly available for the iPhone.

For the low low price of absolutely nothing, you can get the basic version which allows you to collect and listen to all the audio podcasts you want. For the almost as low price of $.99, you can get the video version, which gives you access to all your favorite video blogs including Sesame Street and NBC’s Meet The Press.

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Mediafly for iPhone OS 3 should be available any time. Like so many other apps, they are just waiting on final approval from Apple.